Automotive Insights | From Motown to Rural America

OUTdrive Episode 81 with Karl Kramer

OUTdrive Episode 81 with Karl Kramer

Often referred to as The Automotive Capital of the World and Motor City (Motown), Detroit, Michigan is home to General Motors (GM) headquarters. GM led global annual vehicle sales for 77 consecutive years from 1931 through 2007, and is still among the world’s largest automakers by vehicle unit sales. It was at this multi-billion dollar company that our guest spent the first 20 years of his career immersed in the world of cars and marketing. In this episode of OUTdrive, I sit down with automotive marketer Karl Kramer to discuss industry trends, dealership positioning, and consumer buying habits.

Karl is the Chief Marketing Officer at McCarthy Auto Group and has a demonstrated history of providing effective business results in the automotive industry. He spent the first half of his career at GM in various roles and locations, primarily as a district service manager. In his current position at McCarthy, Karl coordinates and manages marketing efforts, as well as sponsorships, promotions, and community relations, while helping manage OEM working relationships. Karl has a bachelor’s degree in Automotive Technology, Advanced Technical Studies from Southern Illinois University. In his career and personal life, Karl is passionate about building strong business and community relationships.

Karl takes the wheel and hits the gas in this episode of OUTdrive. Tune in to hear him share marketing insight that can help businesses from Motown to Rural America.


  • 2:45 – Karl talks about growing up in Flora, Illinois and how he first got interested in working with cars
  • 3:45 – Karl outlines his career path, from his first job working as a technician to earning his degree at Southern Illinois University and on to working for General Motors (GM)
  • 7:30 – How Karl ended up in Kansas City and his transition to McCarthy Auto Group after 20 years with GM.
  • 8:30 – Karl recounts the origin story of John McCarthy’s auto business
  • 10:30 – Karl describes what it was like to work for GM, one of the largest companies in the world
  • 12:45 – Cliff and Karl discuss the role of Chief Marketing Officer and effective marketing mix strategies in the automotive industry
  • 14:45 – Karl shares his outlook on getting auto manufacturing back to a stable situation
  • 16:45 – Cliff and Karl talk about consumer buying behavior and how it’s changed in just the last couple of years due to COVID-19
  • 19:00 – What Karl enjoys most in his role and what his day-to-day looks like
  • 21:15 – Karl’s take on positioning based on rural and urban markets
  • 23:00 – The types of marketing campaigns and community relationship events that Karl enjoys most
  • 25:30 – Karl tells Cliff what he loves about rural America
  • 27:00 – Karl’s advice to an aspiring marketing professional